Nickel: The Backbone of Stainless Steel Pipe

Pipe Supply, Steel Pipe

Welder working on steel pipe in industrial workshop with safety gear.Industrial stainless steel is more than just iron and carbon. Several other elements contribute to the strength and corrosion resistance we expect from stainless steel pipe, and one of the most important is nickel. Due to the critical role nickel plays in making stainless steel a viable material for industrial flow control systems, the price of nickel has a massive influence on the price and availability of steel pipe and the other PVF products your project calls for.

Let’s delve into why nickel is so important to stainless steel, how nickel prices influence the price and availability of steel pipe, and how PVF distributors keeping up with nickel news protect their customers from pricing volatility.

How Nickel Contributes to the Industrial Performance of Stainless Steel

Nickel is an essential component of industrial-quality stainless steel, playing a significant role in its industrial performance.

Special alloys used in steel pipe, valves, and fittings contain varying proportions of nickel that influence its mechanical properties. These varying proportions contribute to the industrial performance of stainless steel pipe by altering its:

Corrosion Resistance

For steel pipe in harsh environments, the right proportion of nickel in your stainless steel determines its ability to resist corrosion. The presence of nickel in the alloy creates a passive oxide layer that protects the material from various forms of corrosion, including pitting, crevice corrosion, and stress corrosion cracking, in chemical processing, oil and gas extraction, and marine applications.

High-Temperature Performance

Nickel increases the high-temperature strength and stability of stainless steel, improving the industrial performance of steel pipe in high-temperature applications and ensuring they maintain their shape, strength, and integrity even when exposed to elevated temperatures for extended periods.


Nickel doesn’t just strengthen stainless steel pipe against high temperatures, but also improves its toughness at room temperature and low temperatures. For cold-environment operations, the right proportion of nickel helps prevent cracking and failure.

Weldability and Formability

Nickel ensures that welded joints in steel pipe and PVF systems retain their strength, corrosion resistance, and overall integrity, matching those of the base material.

Often, nickel can improve the cost-effectiveness of your steel pipe by improving its ability to be welded and formed, decreasing the amount of labor and time that goes into producing PVF products in complex shapes and to tight tolerances, fabricating and installing steel pipe, and repairing pipe infrastructure.

Since each industrial application of stainless steel has its own unique demands for corrosion resistance, temperature resistance, and toughness, choosing the right proportion of nickel in your steel pipe plays a crucial role in determining the durability, reliability, and overall performance of your pipe.

How the Price of Nickel Affects Steel Pipe

Since nickel is such an important element of industrial stainless steel, nickel prices understandably have a significant impact on the cost of stainless steel PVF products.

Nickel constitutes up to 10% or more of various industrial stainless steel alloys, so when the price of nickel rises, it’s understandable that the cost of raw materials for producing stainless steel increases. This, in turn, elevates the production costs for stainless steel pipes, which are passed on to the consumers in the form of higher prices for stainless steel pipe, valves, and fittings.

For example, high nickel prices might increase raw material procurement costs. As a result, the margins for manufacturers grow tighter, leading to certain high-nickel stainless steel alloys becoming more expensive to manufacture.

Significant increases in the cost of nickel can lead to higher prices for stainless steel pipes, which may affect demand. Industries sensitive to price increases may seek alternatives, either in different materials or by finding suppliers in regions with lower costs. Conversely, when nickel prices are lower, stainless steel pipes become more competitively priced, potentially increasing demand.

High volatility in the price of nickel and the costs of raw materials can lead to uncertainty in the pricing of stainless steel products as well as affect the entire supply chain, from raw material extraction to the final production of steel pipes.

Why PVF Suppliers Keep Up with Nickel News

Understanding and predicting the price of nickel is a key responsibility for stainless steel PVF manufacturers and distributors. When PVF suppliers and distributors keep up-to-date with nickel news and carefully monitor trends in the price of nickel, they can more effectively:

  • Estimate the costs of stainless steel alloys and set competitive pricing for steel pipe accordingly
  • Adjust their inventory of stainless steel pipe and tube based on anticipated movements in nickel prices by stockpiling raw materials when prices are low or hedging against price increases
  • Negotiate better terms with stainless steel pipe manufacturers and secure more favorable purchasing agreements, locking in prices before market-driven increases
  • Forecast costs and revenues more effectively and make informed decisions about investments, expansion, and operational adjustments based on anticipated nickel price movements
  • Provide more transparent and detailed information to their customers regarding price changes, maintaining customer trust even when the price of nickel goes up
  • Adjust market strategies in response to global economic indicators
  • Mitigate the risks significant nickel price fluctuations can pose to their business and their customer’s needs
  • Offer more stable pricing on steel pipe to their customers

When PVF distributors keep up with nickel news, they ensure that their customers get the best possible value out of stainless steel pipe, valves, and fittings, even in times of uncertainty or volatility in the price of nickel.

At American Stainless, we leverage our close relationships with leading stainless steel pipe manufacturers to keep a close eye on nickel news and anticipate shifts in the price of nickel so we can provide better service and superior products at competitive prices to customers across the southeastern US.

Combine that with a quality system so far above industry ISO standards that it’s literally in a league of its own, and a commitment to ASAP order fulfillment and delivery, we commit ourselves to providing the highest quality in steel pipe and keeping your projects on time and under budget. Contact our dedicated customer service and support team today to ensure the best possible industrial performance from your project.


How does nickel contribute to the industrial performance of stainless steel?

Nickel is essential in industrial-quality stainless steel as it influences corrosion resistance, high-temperature performance, toughness, weldability, and formability of steel pipe and PVF products.

How does the price of nickel affect the cost of stainless steel pipe?

Since nickel is a key component in stainless steel alloys, fluctuations in nickel prices can impact the cost of raw materials, production costs, and ultimately the prices of stainless steel pipe and fittings.

Why is it important for PVF suppliers to keep up with nickel news?

PVF suppliers need to monitor nickel prices to estimate costs, adjust inventory, negotiate better terms with manufacturers, forecast costs and revenues, and offer stable pricing on steel pipe to customers.

How does American Stainless stay ahead of nickel price fluctuations to provide competitive pricing on steel pipes?

American Stainless maintains close relationships with stainless steel manufacturers, closely monitors nickel news, and leverages its quality system to provide superior products at competitive prices to customers across the southeastern US.